An immigration strategy for the UK: Six proposals to manage migration for economic success

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Series Details December 2017
Publication Date December 2017
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The UK’s post-Brexit immigration strategy should be based on six objectives:

1. The immigration strategy should clearly differentiate between types of immigration.

2. The immigration strategy should actively address geographical imbalances in the economy.

3. Migrants have the kind of country-specific knowledge that should help boost exports.

4. The immigration strategy should forge a new compact between employers and government, as a means to achieving a high-pay, high-productivity economy.

5. The immigration strategy should support the UK’s trade balance.

6. The immigration strategy should promote equality and integration.

The United Kingdom think tank Institute for Public Policy Research published a report An immigration strategy for the UK: Six proposals to manage migration for economic success in December 2017.

The authors suggest that for too long, the development of immigration policy has been driven in the UK by ad hoc reactions to political and operational crises, operating independently of wider social and economic ambitions. The net migration target pursued by the Home Office has forced the Government to crudely drive down overall numbers, often in contradiction to the objectives of other departments, on the basis of unreliable data and irrespective of the social impacts of its policies.

With the immigration system coming under increasing scrutiny, now was the time for a comprehensive rethink to ensure the rules met the needs of the UK economy. A new immigration strategy for post-Brexit Britain should be designed to address some of the country’s core economic weaknesses: including addressing geographical imbalances, boosting innovation, halting the stagnation of real wages, and tackling the trade deficit.

In this discussion paper, the authors focus on the key elements of a new immigration strategy targeted at addressing some of the UK’s core economic problems. The starting point was that the criteria used to guide the UK’s strategy on immigration should seek to complement and reinforce efforts to address our broader economic weaknesses.

The ideas in the discussion paper do not attempt to predetermine the Brexit negotiations. The authors recognise, along with the Government, that any future policy for EU nationals will depend on an agreement with the EU. This paper was therefore designed to offer recommendations for policy change primarily for non-EU immigration. For each recommendation, the authors also explore how, depending on the post-Brexit agreement, EU migrants could be incorporated into the new system.

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